Scottish Tory leader would campaign to leave in another EU referendum

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw has said he would campaign to leave the EU if there was a second referendum.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland on Monday, Mr Carlaw said the EU has changed since 2016 in ways he cannot support.

He said another vote – or a fresh referendum on independence – would create a “corrosive” atmosphere in the country.

Mr Carlaw said: “I would campaign to leave. Since 2016, the EU itself has changed.

“It’s now seeking to created a united army of the European Union by 2025, I can’t support that.

“I believe in other ways, too, the European Union has changed.”

He added: “I believe, having gone through this whole process, what people need is clarity, I don’t believe we can go through another referendum on this or independence without the atmosphere being corrosive and brutal.

“I think, after three years, people now want the clarity that comes from moving forward and I believe that we will leave the European Union.”

Boris Johnson has come under fire for comments he made before becoming Prime Minister (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Carlaw was also asked about his support for Boris Johnson on the radio programme.

He said he would not judge the Prime Minister on comments he has made in the past but on his record as in Number 10.

Mr Johnson has come under fire for a number of comments made in newspaper and magazine columns, written before he took office.

He previously compared women wearing the niqab to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”, as well as other remarks deemed to be derogatory towards black people and members of the LGBT community.

Asked about his views on the comments, Mr Carlaw said: “When I saw the Prime Minister before the election, I said to him what I said on broadcast media previously, which is that I’m going to judge the Prime Minister on what he says and does as Prime Minister, not what he said before he was Prime Minister.”

Mr Carlaw said he would not use the terms Mr Johnson has been criticised for using.

He added: “The specific things that I have asked – that he put the union at the heart of this campaign, that he respond to specific issues that we face here in Scotland and that he put them in the manifesto, that is what he has done.

“Therefore, in the sense that he has been absolutely straight in his dealings with me, then I have been able to support and continue to support him as Prime Minister.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats election campaign chairman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Jackson Carlaw’s announcement that he would campaign to leave the EU if there is a People’s Vote is arch political cowardice.

“He knows perfectly well that it will impoverish his constituents and make our country poorer but he goes along with it because Boris Johnson told him to.

“What’s truly corrosive to our democracy is that politicians like Jackson Carlaw are putting their loyalty to the Conservative Party ahead of the people of this country.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to build a brighter future by investing in education and mental health and putting a stop to both independence and Brexit.”